US Coins

Early-copper cents are intriguing to study and collect

Other publications have superseded the classic United States Copper Cents 1816-1857 by Howard Rounds Newcomb, according to Joel Orosz, who writes Coin World's numismatic literature column, "Numismatic Bookie."

Joel Orosz image.

I found this old coin book at Half Price Books and I am having a hard time understanding it.

It has a guide that tells you what the letters stand for but for some strange reason it does not help me.

Anyway, the name of the book is United States Copper Cents 1816-1857 by Howard R. Newcomb.

Is there an updated book on this series that is easier to understand or do I have to knuckle down and force myself to understand this one?

By the way, it is a third edition, dated 1963, well before my time. I’ve been in this hobby for 18 years and I am still a newbie, just trying to learn everything I can.

Thanks for any help you may be able to provide.

T. Hern

via email

We turned to Joel Orosz, who writes Coin World’s numismatic literature column, “Numismatic Bookie” for an answer.

“You have bought Howard Rounds Newcomb’s classic book on the middle and late date large cents. Classic, but highly confusing to use. Some old-timers still like it, but it has been superseded by other publications.

“I’m not sure about the third edition, but I know that the first one was literally handwritten.

“Two recommendations for you. First, go to and then click on the Books and Resources button on the right side of the homepage.

“You don’t need to be a member of the Early American Coppers organization to use this resource, which has a great set of recommendations on books for early, middle and late date large cents.

“Another idea is to look at the four auction catalogs for the Dan Holmes Collection sold by Ira and Larry Goldberg Auctioneers.

“Visit the firm’s website at and click on the Archives button at the far right side at the top of the page.

“On the Archives page, scroll down to find the online catalog and prices realized for each sale beginning with Part 1 Sept. 6, 2009; June 1, 2010; Sept. 19, 2010 and the final sale on Jan. 30, 2011.

“These catalogs have superb pictures of copper coins, and careful descriptions of the various varieties. Call the auction firm toll-free 800-978-2646 to see if there are still catalogs available for sale. If not, consult numismatic literature dealers.

“Of course, the middle and late dates are tough to attribute no matter what kind of great references you have on hand. It sure makes it challenging — but fun when you master it!”


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